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The best “brain food” might be chocolate, a new study out in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests. The study links a country’s chocolate consumption and the number of Nobel Prize winners that country has created.The link is especially obvious in Switzerland, Reuters reports:
And guess who leads the pack? The Swiss, of course, closely followed by the Swedes and the Danes. The U.S. is somewhere in the middle of chocolate consumption and Nobel Prize winners per capita. To produce just one more laureate, the nation would have to up its cocoa intake by a whopping 275 million pounds a year, according to Dr. Franz Messerli, who did the analysis.
“The amount it takes, it’s actually quite stunning, you know,” Messerli chuckled. “The Swiss eat 120 bars – that is, 3-ounce bars – per year, for every man, woman and child, that’s the average.
“I attribute essentially all my success to the very large amount of chocolate that I consume,” Eric Cornell, an American physicist who shared the Nobel Prize in 2001, told Reuters. “Personally I feel that milk chocolate makes you stupid,” he added. “Now dark chocolate is the way to go. It’s one thing if you want like a medicine or chemistry Nobel Prize, OK, but if you want a physics Nobel Prize it pretty much has got to be dark chocolate.”
Is it April Fools’ day? Not yet. The study is legitimate, but it also points out of the major failings of correlational studies: The fact that they are only correlations.
This correlation between chocolate and Nobel prizes is real, but the solution to smartening up your population doesn’t lie in what junk foods they eat: The link between chocolate and intelligence lies elsewhere — in the country’s moneybags.
“National chocolate consumption is correlated with a country’s wealth and high-quality research is correlated with a country’s wealth,” Cornell told Reuters. “So therefore chocolate is going to be correlated with high-quality research, but there is no causal connection there.”
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